She will play horror games – any game that haunts the dreams of a child – and she will love them. She will play shooters and command an army to kill aliens and enemy human beings. She will kill monsters and fight against ill-timed dragons, foul remains of a once powerful warrior, and servants of wicked Godlings in a Viking landscape. She will solve crimes in 1940’s Los Angeles and help raise the reputation of the LAPD. She will play anything and everything, except Heavy Rain.
This is a short tale of my sister and her fear of morality in videogames (or at least one game in particular), something I just recently discovered while she was browsing the artwork of Heavy Rain on Tumblr. After repeatedly asking if she was going to at least try the game out, she only shook her head. “I don’t know, I just can’t,” she would say. Even though I reminded her about playing the game under easy, which is what I did, she still didn’t feel she was up to par. “I’m not good with timed things.” Why does this sentence sound so familiar?
I had finished playing Heavy Rain last year to which my sister would walk in every now and then seeing what part of the story I was on. She already got the gist of the game and I don’t know if it was the technicality of the game flashing warning signs but she just didn’t want to play it. She witnessed the infamous “Jason!” scene, the apartment dream scene, and the torture scene. That last sequence is probably what freaked her out the most as the intensity of the moment shocked the entire room. But that state of panic, what ultimately drives the game, is what is preventing her from playing the game…ever.
What I’ll say is that the controls aren’t the finest. It’s one thing to have prompts alerting the player about which button to press. It’s another to walk from one side of the room to the other side (which turns out to be more difficult than the QTEs). But with the combination of QTE’s and the directional mechanic, the game feels grander in every short scene and I think the idea that she has to walk while preparing for a sudden QTE makes the game look more difficult than it should. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but for her it is too much.
When compared to the game’s mechanic, however, Death is the biggest fear keeping her from touching the game –let alone conquering it. She is already aware of the way the narrative performs and how the characters have the potential to die throughout the game. She doesn’t want any of it. Doesn’t want the responsibility for failing to save Jason, even though there is no way around that. Doesn’t want to see characters die because she wasn’t fast enough to react. Doesn’t want to be tortured with missing characters in a scene they could have been in. Just a big NO for her. Losing characters for good in a videogame is a new concept to her and while I’m try to get her to at least finish goddamn Mass Effect (1), she will have none of Heavy Rain’s emotional heaviness on her shoulders. She hasn’t even reached the Kaiden or Ashley choice. That’ll be fun to watch.
What is it about morality in games that freaks people out? It could be gamers have gotten so used to multiple numbers of lives to restart with, and the idea of having only one life sets off panic alerts (well, most gamers at least). Is this the fear of gaming non-gamers experience when someone asks if they want to play? I know I feel intimated when it comes to online multiplayer shooters, but I at least tried a match.
How can I get my sister to play Heavy Rain? Normally I don’t care what she does with her gaming time, but she is a big Ellen Page fan. BIG. Once she heard Ellen Page would appear as the main character to David Cage’s next videogame Beyond: Two Souls, she… what is the equivalent of a female boner? Anyway, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say she is excited. And seeing as the man behind Heavy Rain is also heading the creation of Beyond, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume the game’s mechanics are in a similar vein as his previous games. So why not prepare her beforehand? But with all the fears I listed, is there another way to get her to at least turn on the game? If you have ideas, share them in the comments.